Nursing Schools in Illinois – IL | Colleges | Degree | Education

Nursing Schools in Illinois – IL

A survey of Illinois registered nurses (RNs) completed in 2018 by the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center reported that 52% of RNs are of age 55 years or older. It also reported that around one third of the RN workforce in Illinois intends to retire within five years from 2018. There is also an increased demand for healthcare because of an aging population. Therefore, it seems likely that the demand for nurses in Illinois can increase and employment prospects may be bright.

A number of nursing schools in Illinois offer a variety of accredited nursing degree programs. You can choose a degree level that aligns with your career goals and opt for on-campus, online or hybrid course formats. Read our Nursing Education, Schools and Career Overview to learn more about the qualifications needed for a successful nursing career.

For an idea of the types of nursing degree programs available in Illinois, the type of financial aid you could receive, and how to get licensed and certified as a nurse, read on.

What nursing schools are there in Illinois?

Nursing schools in Illinois are regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) generally approves nursing degree programs. Some accredited nursing schools in Illinois are listed below.

  • Illinois State University
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Lewis University
  • Loyola University Chicago
  • University of St. Francis

Let’s take a closer look at the various nursing degree programs that can help you start a rewarding nursing career in Illinois.

  • Completing a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program can equip you with the knowledge and technical skills for the role of an RN. Schools such as Loyola University Chicago, University of St. Francis, Illinois Wesleyan University, Illinois State University and Lewis University offer BSN degree programs.
  • If you already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field but want to transition into a nursing career, you can try pursuing an accelerated BSN degree program from school such as Loyola University Chicago, Illinois State University and Lewis University. This degree program is typically completed in around 16 months to two years and may be available on campus or in a hybrid format.
  • RNs seeking to complete a BSN degree to rise in their professions may pursue an RN-to-BSN degree program from schools such as Loyola University Chicago, University of St. Francis, Illinois State University and Lewis University.
  • University of St. Francis may offer students a unique RN-BSN fast track program in association with Joliet Junior College. Students completing their Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in nursing degree program at Joliet Junior College can take concurrent online BSN courses from University of St. Francis and eventually secure their BSN degree.
  • If you want to pursue advanced practice nursing roles, you can specialize in your preferred field by completing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program. Schools such as Loyola University Chicago, University of St. Francis, Illinois State University and Lewis University typically offer MSN degree programs in various specializations and formats. Practicing RNs can fast track their way to an MSN by completing the RN-MSN pathway that may be offered by Lewis University.
  • RNs with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree too can earn an MSN through the online RN-BS-MSN pathway from University of St. Francis.
  • A unique degree program is the accelerated MSN/MBA dual degree program that may be offered by Lewis University.
  • A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree program may help nurses become expert nurse leaders and collaborators in solving problems in health care systems. Explore the online DNP degree programs that are typically available from University of St. Francis, Illinois State University and Lewis University. Some schools such as Loyola University Chicago usually offer a DNP degree program in a blended format. A BSN-DNP pathway can also be available from Loyola University Chicago to ambitious nursing students.
  • A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in nursing can help to prepare nurse researchers who contribute to the knowledge of nursing science. Loyola University Chicago and Illinois State University may offer nursing PhD degree programs in a blended format.

What financial aid can I get for nursing programs in Illinois?

Nursing students in Illinois may apply to federal and state financial aid programs such as grants, loans, work-study programs and scholarships. However, remember to check if you meet the eligibility criteria of a financial aid program, such as extent of financial need, income, merit and so on, before you apply. Here are some examples of nursing scholarships in Illinois:

  • Nursing Education Scholarship Program — for nursing students in financial need who are Illinois residents and are pursuing approved nursing certificate, diploma or degree programs. They may need to commit to practicing or teaching nursing in Illinois after graduation.
  • Illinois Nurses Foundation's Sonne Scholarship — Illinois students who are enrolled in a state-approved nursing program which prepares them for RN licensure and who are members of the Student Nurse Association of Illinois (SNAI) may be eligible for this scholarship.
  • Genesis Health Services Foundation BSN Nursing Scholarship — may be awarded as a one-time forgivable loan to undergraduate nursing students from an Iowa or Illinois institution. Students may need to be permanent residents of the bi-state service area of the Genesis Health System and may need to be employed at a Genesis Medical Center for at least one year after graduation.

What do I need to know about certifications in nursing in Illinois?

Nursing certification in Illinois is typically granted by the IDFPR. RNs who complete a graduate-level nursing program in a relevant specialization and train for the role of certified nurse midwife (CNM), certified clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse practitioner (CNP), or certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) can get certification as advanced practice nurses (APNs).

The IDFPR may accept APN candidates who hold national certification from an approved national organization. Examples of such organizations are:

  • American College of Nurse-Midwives
  • American Academy of Nurse Practitioners
  • American Nurses Credentialing Center
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification Board
  • National Certification Corporation
  • Certification Board for Urologic Nurses and Associates
  • American Association of Critical Care Nurses
  • American Association of Nurse Anesthetists
  • Oncology Nursing Certification Corporation

Do I need a nursing license in Illinois? How do I apply for it?

To practice nursing in Illinois, you usually need a nursing license. Licensure may be granted by the IDFPR. Passing the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) may be necessary to be eligible for licensure.

Applying for licensure by examination requires a dual application. Candidates typically need to:

  • submit an application along with its fee
  • register for the NCLEX-RN examination with Pearson Vue
  • submit either a student roster or an ED-NUR form (certificate of education) authenticated by the nursing school at which the nursing degree program was completed
  • include a CCA form as a supporting document responding to questions regarding legal or disciplinary issues
  • include a record of past and current professional licenses held in Illinois or any other state
  • submit a fingerprint receipt or proof of fingerprint submission
  • submit to a criminal background check
  • once you receive an authorization letter from the testing service, pay the examination registration fee and schedule your examination within 90 days

An applicant can practice as a license-pending RN under direct supervision for a period of three months from the official date of passing the licensure exam.

Nurses in Illinois are typically required to renew their license every two years. Practicing RNs may need to complete at least 20 hours of approved continuing education during the 24-month period before license expiration.

What can I do with a degree in nursing in Illinois?

You may find that you have a number of career options ahead of you in Illinois. The Chicago-Naperville-Elgin metropolitan area, which falls across Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana, ranks among the top three metropolitan areas in the country with the highest employment level for RNs.

Take a look at this overview of nursing careers in Illinois based on projected job growth, salaries and employment rates.

CareerTotal Employment
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses19,930
Nurse Anesthetists1,660
Nurse Midwives290
Nurse Practitioners6,750
Nursing Assistants60,370
Registered Nurses129,530
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

CareerAnnual Mean WageBottom 10% Annual WageTop 10% Annual Wage
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses$53,290$39,150$66,140
Nurse Anesthetists$199,660$137,970>$208,000
Nurse Midwives$104,640$74,390$134,030
Nurse Practitioners$107,860$78,940$139,520
Nursing Assistants$29,760$22,570$38,730
Registered Nurses$73,510$51,610$101,200
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Sources:

  • Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2018, Registered Nurses, on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291141.htm (accessed on 30 September, 2019)
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  • Genesis Health Services Foundation, Genesis Health Services Foundation BSN Nursing Scholarship, on the Internet at https://www.genesishealth.com/giving/scholarships/scholarships/bsn-requirements/ (accessed on 30 September, 2019)
  • Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation, IL RN Continuing Education Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), on the Internet at http://nursing.illinois.gov/PDF/2015-10_IL_RN_CE_Relicensure_FAQ.pdf (accessed on 30 September, 2019)
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